The Scientist Debates the Future of Science Publishing

The Scientist, Aug 2012

“Publishers And Scholars Chart A Path” reads the bold claim on the cover of this month’s issue of The Scientist.  That might be overstating it a bit, but the issue is still well worth reading.  The feature article, “Whither Science Publishing?,” sets the stage by posing questions and hosting discussions among several noted researchers, publishers both commercial and scholarly, university administrators, and information scientists.    Among the questions I particularly liked:

  • QUESTION 5: Should the source of funding for scientific research determine how manuscripts arising from that work are published?
  • QUESTION 3: Is open-access publishing the wave of the future? What problems plague open-access publishing as practiced now?   and
  • QUESTION 2: Are there problems with the existing peer-review system?

Discussions on topics of scientific communication and scholarly publishing are too often framed in a grotesquely oversimplified, adversarial terms that do poor service to the complex, varied, and challenging scholarly publishing landscape that exists today.  This article offers a good, evenhanded overview of some of the issues facing researchers, editors, publishers, libraries and funding agencies.

Also recommended – the lead editorial, “Survival of the Fittest – To Print” and two complementary Critic at Large columns which examine predatory publishers and the need to set transparency standards (including a proposal for a Transparency Index, to bring greater accountability to journal editorial, review, and publishing practices).

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